How to Make a USB Key Fob

PNY attache thumbdriveA little over a year ago, I came up with this idea to attach my thumbdrive to my keychain (no, I don’t think I was the first to do this).  Specifically, a PNY brand “Micro Swivel Attache 4 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive” was what I wanted to attach.  As you can see from this image from Amazon.com, the thumbdrive in question does actually come with a lanyard to attach to your keychain.  Unfortunately, it is a thin string with glitter all over it.  It’s attachment to the silver base could also be suspect.  Besides not being many people’s style, it looks prone to breakage, possibly loosing all of your precious data.

A better solution, in my opinion, is to make a lanyard yourself out of nylon cord.  A bootlace would also work well, and might help compensate for the fact that you’re carrying a thumbdrive with you at all times.  Here are the steps for making your own USB lanyard:

1. – Get or cut a cord/shoelace/bootstrap 20 inches to 21 inches long.  The thickness of the cord should be about like a bootstrap, or somewhere around 1/8 inch in diameter.

2. – Tie a knot called a “surgeon’s loop” on one side as pictured below:

Surgeon's Loop knot

The loop on step 3 should be between 2 and 3 inches so that it can be used to loop it onto your keychain.  In order to get a loop like this, you’ll need to use around 13 inches of cord in the initial loop shown in step 1.

3. – The remaining end of the rope should be tied in a noose as shown below.  Instead of the traditional use, the end that tightens should be looped around the split ring that  will permanently hold your USB dongle or whatever else you’d like to secure on your keychain.

noose with keychain

Once this is done, you will have an easy way to remove this extra split ring and whatever is attached to it.  I use it to easily hold my Thumbdrive to my other keys, but you could put anything else on it that you have to attach and quickly detach from your keychain.  Depending on what kind of cord you use, it could have a tensile strength of hundreds of pounds – definitely enough to secure a tiny flashdrive.  Incidentally, I used a noose to secure a vacuum hose for my CNC router, so it’s quite the useful knot.

You should also remove any excess cord from the knots once everything is adjusted correctly.  Carefully burn the ends with a match or lighter to prevent fraying.

4. – Attach to your main keychain by looping the surgeon’s loop knot through it.  Fold the keychain through this loop and pull tight.  You now have a secured thumbdrive that can easily be taken off when needed.  I also put an attachment for a magic marker on it.  Here are my results:pny key fob by itself

pny key fob
I’ve carried a PNY thumbdrive on my keychain like this for over a year now without any issues.  The one I had before from Sandisk seemed like it was starting to get a little flaky, and at 256 MB was pretty small.  Nothing against Sandisk, I put it through the washing machine at least twice and it still lasted around four years.  PNY seems to be a good brand as well since I’ve been abusing it’s product for well over a year without issue.

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If you liked this article, and want to get updated via RSS on jcopro.net, be sure to sign up here!  Also, if you’re wondering if this will hold up, check out my post on this after 2 1/2 years of use.

  1. Thanks for the tip, my thumbdrive came with a flimsy ballchain, so I upgraded using your suggestions.

  2. Working With Audio Files in Ubuntu | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on May 28, 2012 at 10:59 am
  3. Thanks, man. I’ve been looking forever for those mini keyrings that only a few usb drives to no avail. I never thought to just use a shoelace or some other cord.

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